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Dad Forgives Man Who Killed His Son, Hugs Him In Court

They say forgiveness is divine, and most would agree that it's very healthy to let go of the past by forgiving. But in some situations, it's hard to imagine being able to forgive a tragic, life-altering event. One father was able to rise above his anger and grief, and has embraced his son's killer in the courtroom.

Trey Alexander Relford faced a judge and was sentenced to 31 years in prison for complicity and murder. Relford pleaded guilty to the murder charges, along with charges of complicity to robbery and attempted tampering with evidence, when he helped take the life of a delivery man in Kentucky.

Salahuddin Jitmoud was 22 years old and working for Pizza Hut delivering food. He went to an apartment complex one night in April and his body was found later in the breezeway. He had been cut with a knife.

Trey Relford and two other men were later arrested in connection with Jitmoud's death. Relford was the one who placed the order knowing that his friends were looking to rob the driver. He waited in the vehicle during the robbery and witnessed a part of it. When he discovered that his accomplice killed the pizza driver, he helped dispose of some evidence.

Gail Coote Bird, Relford’s mother, was called to the witness stand and testified that her son was under the influence of drugs. She begged Jitmoud's family to forgive her son and thanked them for agreeing to a plea deal. The plea deal helped Relford escape the death penalty.

“I’m not angry at you,” said Jitmoud's father, Abdul-Munim Sombat Jitmoud. "I’m angry at the devil. I blame the devil, who misguided you to do such a horrible crime...." he continued during the Tuesday hearing.

“Forgiveness is the greatest gift of charity in Islam. I forgive you on behalf of Salahuddin and his mother,” said the grieving father. He then reached out to hug his son's admitted killer.

“I’m sorry about what happened that day,” Relford said to Jitmoud's family with tears in his eyes. “I do applaud you because it takes a powerful man to know that someone has hurt them and to get up there and say what you just said. I can’t imagine the hurt, the pain. There’s nothing I can do ... I thank you for your forgiveness.”

Mr. Jitmoud later explained his Islamic beliefs, and why he felt it was so important for him to forgive Relford. "If I as a father fail to forgive a person, Islam teaches that God will not be able to forgive that person.”

Jitmoud explains that forgiving the young man 'opens the door for God to forgive him'.

Kathy Phillips, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, says that forgiveness may be divine, but Relford hasn't fully accepted his responsibility for the death of the innocent young man. “This was a premeditated, planned and violent crime,” she notes to the Herald-Leader. “His actions... brought him here.”

Source: NY Daily News, Daily Mail
Photo: Lexington Police Department, WKYT

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